Ryan Raburn didn’t expect to be back at Fifth Third Field Friday night.
Raburn, who played with the Mud Hens for all or part of six different seasons from 2005-10, spent all of last year with Detroit and finished with a .256 batting average and 14 home runs in 121 games.
But after hitting just .147 in his first 37 games with the Tigers this season, Raburn was optioned to the Mud Hens and Friday played in his first Toledo game in 2012. Raburn, who went 0-for-3 but drew a walk and scored a run in the Hens’ 5-2 win over Buffalo, understood the reasons behind the move.
“As good as you feel sometimes, up there [in the majors] it’s all about results,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you hit the ball great four times, if you make four outs things can go south pretty fast.
“I’ve been in a slump before, and it’s nothing I can’t get out of. But it was frustrating to feel as great as I did early and not having any success.”
After tying for the team lead with six home runs in spring training, Raburn started the season in a 2-for-31 funk and never recovered. He hit .148 in April and just .145 in May and had 35 strikeouts in 123 at-bats.
“Honestly, I’ve been worse,” Raburn said. “I don’t feel that bad, but the results weren’t there.
“It’s a long season, and you go through ups and downs. I’ve had my downs early, and I’m ready to start swinging [the bat] the way I know I can.”
The Mud Hens claimed their second win in a row thanks in part to an impressive start by Thad Weber, who set a career high with 12 strikeouts.
Weber allowed just five hits and two walks in seven strong innings. He gave up a first-inning home run to Buffalo’s Josh Satin and an RBI triple to Fred Lewis in the fourth but otherwise didn’t allow the Bisons to push a runner past second base on the way to snapping a personal two-game losing streak.
“In my last two starts my stuff hasn’t been as good as it was early in the year,” Weber said. “It was good to have my good stuff again.
“I knew early in the game I would be going to [the curve] a lot. On a night where it feels good, I have no problem going to it over and over again.”
Still, the Mud Hens trailed 2-1 early, manufacturing their lone run in the second on a triple by Ben Guez and a groundout by Bryan Holaday. With two outs and a runner on first in the sixth, Toledo’s Brad Eldred cranked his 21st home run of the season to give the Hens the lead.
“It was a huge momentum swing,” Weber said of Eldred’s homer. “We had taken some good swings, and we were hanging in there.
“But that was a huge swing in our favor. I was happy to shut them down in the seventh, and the bullpen came in and shut them down.”
Eldred leads all of minor-league baseball with his 21 home runs and 60 RBIs.
“He’s a guy we have leaned on,” Nevin said. “He carried us in April, and that home run was a big one.
“With our pitching, a lot of our games have been close. So he has hit some big ones — and that sure was a big one.”
Toledo added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on a two-run single by Brent Dlugach, and three relievers — Jose Ortega, Matt Hoffman, and Chris Bootcheck — closed out the win, with Bootcheck earning his 11th save.
NOTES: OF Matt Young was taken out of the game after batting in the bottom of the first inning so he could be promoted to Detroit. Young will join the Tigers for today’s game against the Yankees. … Eldred also had a single and now has a seven-game hit streak. … The contest was played in a light rain.